A Stroll At Leisure With God

The Things That Are Not

As the five of us sat there with Hanna* and one of the kindergarten teachers, Anna*, I could not but help be amazed at what God is doing.

I believe I have mentioned in this forum before an opportunity to minister in an elementary school just four blocks or so down the street from the church.

A pastor friend and brother—Luke—introduced me to this opportunity a couple of years ago. He said that it began with a simple desire to serve a school with no agenda. He also told me about how the ministry has evolved (I actually hate that word because it always reminds me of “evolution” but it is a good word, I guess) from there. Now, Luke and his congregation find that doors are opening for the gospel quite frequently.

But it comes back to serving for serving’s sake. And I think that is hard for Baptists to do. We want to move beyond that quickly to something that will actually put people in the pews and thus make us more money. That is a crass statement, but all of know it is true.

But I am done with that viewpoint and approach. THIS WHOLE THING, this service approach to our immediate community feels right.

I’m not saying that this is the only thing we will do, but for now, I am going to challenge our church to focus on it.

So, back to the meeting: four ladies from our fellowship and I met with Hanna, who coordinates volunteers. She bent over backwards to tell us how much they appreciate us being willing to help them out. I said, “Hanna, the privilege is ours. Thank you so much.”

We walked down a hall to Hanna’s office. “Pastor John, they moved me down here this year. I like this room a whole lot more.” As we entered, four teachers were sitting around a table in the middle of the room, but when they noticed us, they promptly pulled their books and papers together and shuffled out.

At every turn, I can tell how much this school and these teachers NEED help.

As Hanna began to talk with us, Anna entered the room and pulled up a chair at the table. Hanna relinquished the floor, so to speak to her. “I’m just so glad all of you are here. I had asked Hanna for the opportunity to speak to you. I am just overwhelmed with the number of kindergartners I have this year. I’m not able to give some of the students the individual care they need, so that is why I am asking for help.”

A couple of us are going to be able to help her to some degree; others expressed interest in serving in other ways. Both Anna and Hanna were glad to accept anything we tossed out.

I don’t know … I love it. Again, this ministry isn’t everything, but it is a good place to start. I don’t see why many others in our fellowship could not be involved. I know that it won’t work for folks who have jobs during the day, but for others …

In Professor Horner’s reading plan, these words from Paul captured my attention: “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen
, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NASB, emphasis mine).

I love that phrase. Right now, where our church is, there are an awful lot of “nots.” Not many nobles (ha). Not many rich people. Not many successful people as the world views it. Not any doctors or lawyers or merchants or chiefs.

However, just a few people that are, to coin Harvey White’s quote (he was a retired pastor God led to our fellowship years ago and a dear servant of God), FAITHFUL and AVAILABLE.

He has put us in this spot and we will serve Him THERE.

Lord, thank You again for this “open door” for the gospel, as Paul terms it. Use us, a congregation of “nots” (and I don’t mean that in a deprecating way at all; in fact, as Paul uses that phrase in the verses above, we ought to glory in our weakness that God’s power might be evident). We certainly can’t take any credit for any of this, for crying out loud!). Guide us as we seek to serve and try to stay out of Your way. Amen.
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